Sewage Sludge k introduction

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  1. Sewage Sludge

K.1. Introduction

The Statewide Sludge Management Plan (SSMP) is a component of the Statewide Solid Waste Plan and is mandated under the Solid Waste Management Act (N.J.S.A. 13:1E-1 et seq.) and also satisfies the residual management planning mandate of the Water Quality Planning Act (N.J.S.A. 58:11A-1 et seq.). In addition, pursuant to the Water Pollution Control Act (N.J.S.A. 58:10A-1 et seq.), the Department is responsible for regulating the management of residual generated by domestic and industrial treatment works in a manner that protects public health and the environment.

In 1983, the decision was made to delegate to the wastewater management program (which is currently within the Division of Water Quality) general administration of the SSMP and the overall programmatic responsibility for regulation of residual management (that is sewage sludge, domestic septage, potable water treatment plant sludge, food processing sludge, and other nonhazardous industrial sludge). However, certain specific responsibilities have been delegated to several other Departmental programs. For example, the regulation of air emissions associated with residual management facilities is the responsibility of the Air Quality Permitting Program under the authority of the Air Pollution Control Act (N.J.S.A. 26:2C-1 et seq.), and the regulation of landfill management of residual (where allowed) is the responsibility of the Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste under the authority of the New Jersey Solid Waste Management Act.
New Jersey has adopted a number of residual management regulations pursuant to its authority under the New Jersey Water Pollution Control Act. Specifically, the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (N.J.A.C. 7:14A), Subchapters 22 and 23, address the issuance of Treatment Works Approvals for all treatment works. Treatment works, as defined by the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES), includes all structures associated with, among other things, residual processing, treatment and storage facilities. Further, New Jersey's Standards for the Use or Disposal of Residual under Subchapter 20 address issuance of permits for residual use or disposal, including residual land application operations and residual transfer stations. In addition, based upon the general conditions included in all NJPDES permits for all wastewater treatment plants, the Division of Water Quality (DWQ) is responsible for assuring that all treatment plants comply with applicable residual planning and management requirements. It should be noted, due to the multi-media nature of residual management, the Department promulgated the NJPDES Rules under multiple statutory authorities, including air, water and solid waste. Thus, the NJPDES Rules, to some degree, reconcile under what circumstances the statutory and regulatory provisions of the three Acts apply.
Under the authority of the New Jersey Solid Waste Management Act, the Department has exempted certain solid waste management facilities and operations from solid waste registration requirements as detailed under the Solid Waste Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:26). The Department exempts from solid waste registration all operations that receive a NJPDES permit for the land application of nonhazardous solid waste, including wastewater and potable water treatment residual. In addition, under Solid Waste Rules, the Department has exempted all remaining types of sewage sludge management equipment and operations from solid waste permitting as long as they are otherwise permitted under the Air or Water Pollution Control Acts. This includes, but is not limited to, residual transfer stations, except those which co-process or co-dispose sewage sludge with municipal solid waste. Exempting these types of operations from solid waste registration served to eliminate duplicative regulation without compromising the Department's evaluation of the engineering design and anticipated environmental impact of the proposed facility. Exempted sewage sludge management equipment and operations are still required to comply with Treatment Works Approval requirements under the NJPDES Rules in lieu of a solid waste engineering design approval. Air quality permits are also required, where applicable.
The Department has also exempted the haulage of marketable residual products from solid waste registration. Marketable residual products are a stable product suitable for use as a soil amendment in agricultural practices and/or for potential distribution to the public, landscapers and other horticultural and nursery users. Marketable residual products that have received all necessary approvals for reuse are not subject to the solid waste transportation requirements outlined in Solid Waste Rules. However, the transportation of any residual for disposal or for further processing or conversion to a product would be considered a regulated solid waste transportation activity.
The DWQ is also responsible for the Sludge Quality Assurance Regulations (N.J.A.C. 7:14C). Under the Sludge Quality Assurance Regulations (SQAR), the DWQ monitors sludge quality, quantity and ultimate management methods by all domestic and industrial treatment works.
Twenty years ago, approximately 86% of the sewage sludge generated in New Jersey was going either to a New Jersey landfill or to the ocean for disposal. However, beginning in March 1985, under provisions of the New Jersey Solid Waste Management Act, New Jersey landfills were restricted from accepting sewage sludge for disposal. Then beginning in March 1991, under the New Jersey Ocean Dumping Elimination Act, New Jersey sewage sludge generators were no longer allowed to dispose of their sewage sludge in the ocean. Thus, by the end of 1991 out-of-State disposal of sewage sludge had increased to almost 60% of New Jersey's total sludge production. These two statutory initiatives, occurring within a time period of six years, essentially eliminated the sewage sludge management alternative for 86% of New Jersey's sewage sludge production. This severely stressed New Jersey's sewage sludge management infrastructure. Figures K-1 and K-2 depict these changes in sewage sludge management from 1983 to 2003. Figure K-1 depicts the history of sewage sludge management in New Jersey during this time period for each management method. Figure K-2 focuses on the overall decreasing reliance on out-of-State disposal since 1991 as well as the shift from out-of-State disposal to out-of-State beneficial use alternatives.

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